Pubdate: Sun, 14 Jan 2001
Source: Sun-Herald (Australia)
Copyright: 2001 John Fairfax Holdings Ltd
Author: Adrian Scardilli
Bookmark: (Safe Injecting Rooms)


A shortage of applicants has forced organisers of Australia's first
legal heroin injecting rooms to recruit nurses from overseas.

The Uniting Church, which was awarded the licence to run the injecting
room last October, plans to place newspaper ads in the UK as well as
Australia-wide in a bid to fill the positions.

The move follows a slow response to last year's NSW advertising
campaign to recruit temporary part-time registered nurses, health
educational officers and drug and alcohol workers.

Uniting Church medical director Ingrid van Beek said recruiting nurses
had to be more widespread.

"The United Kingdom would be a good place to start searching for
nurses overseas," Dr van Beek said. "They have excellent drug and
alcohol training.

The injecting rooms, at 66 Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross - a former
pinball parlour - are almost complete.

The Uniting Church has appointed the rooms' nurses unit manager and is
close to signing three registered nurses since starting the recruiting
campaign in November.

Dr van Beek said:

"We need at least 10 nurses and will be looking for a casual pool of
nurses in case someone is sick and we have to call someone in.

"I guess there is also a bit of perceived uncertainty around this

"On the one hand people are attracted to it because of the idea of
doing something challenging and pioneering and being part of the first
legal injecting room.

"But because we haven't actually run something like this in Australia,
there's nobody out there really who has the full set of skills needed.

"I suppose we are asking nurses to go out on a limb."

The Uniting Church is developing a comprehensive two-week training
program for injecting room nurses and counsellors, covering a range of
important issues including overdose and aggression management.
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